One recent afternoon in Chappell Hill, Texas, touring the area around that antiques Holy Ground, Round Top, I stopped by Heritage Garden and Mercantile on the town's main street, looked around for a few minutes and was on my way back out the door when a display of lids meant to fit old canning jars caught my eye. The neat thing about the lids was that each one held a tiny solar light. They could turn any jar into a lantern.
I loved the idea and bought two, dropping them in my suitcase. Later, when I got home I put the lids in the big English armoire I use as a china closet, filling it with linens, dishes, serving pieces and candles.
When I pulled out candles for the Thanksgiving table, I saw the lids and a few days later I put one on a jar from the pantry. I left it on the table to charge and then forgot about it again. Very early in the morning, when I got up to get ready to catch an early flight, I walked into the dark kitchen and the room was lit by the glowing jar.
I went online and discovered there are several brands of solar jar lid lights at various price points. And, if you're particularly crafty, I found instructions for making your own. I used the solar lid on a clear Kerr jar but it would be just as pretty with a vintage blue Mason jar.
I may be late to the party, but I'm happy to have found the little lights. They give new purpose to empty, unused jars and bring a beautiful new glow to lovely old glass. And, it's a good reminder that we never know what we'll find as we travel.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org